“We were very nervous beforehand.”
This is what coach Seamus O’Connor said of Thursday night’s home game versus the East Carolina (ECU) Pirates. This was no ordinary game for Temple, as it was the conference opener and the team was looking for its first conference win since the 2015 season. They were also looking to bounce back from a frustrating 1-0 loss to Central Connecticut State last Saturday, something they hadn’t felt in a while. Fortunately for the Owls, senior captain Elana Falcone scored 50 minutes in for the only goal of the contest and a 1-0 win. The win improved their record to 5-4-1.
“Coming off of last year this was definitely a big win for us,” Falcone said. “We have a lot of revenge to get back on the rest of the conference so tonight was a great start to conference play and we’re looking forward to the rest of it.”
Looking at the stats of the game before it started, it seemed like it was going to be a very even and gritty match. Both teams had similar records coming in (4-4-1 for Temple, 5-4-2 for ECU) and last year’s matchup was a tight one with the Pirates coming out on top by a score of 2-1.
Temple came out a little flat to start the game, but O’Connor just shaped this up to nerves. “I started to get on them in the first half because they were playing very nervous. They know what they’re supposed to do but they were over-thinking way too much. I just had to get them to play.”
Once again depth for the Owls proved to be a strong factor in the outcome. Team points leader and junior forward, Kerri McGinley, came on as a first half substitute and made an immediate impact, putting pressure on the ECU backline and goalie by attacking the ball as soon as it came downfield. Starters, Gabriella McKeown and Kayla Cunningham, had a big impact as well, as McKeown had two shots on goal, three shots total, and an assist on Falcone’s goal.
There were a couple of factors as well that the Owls needed to adjust quickly or else the game could have gone in a different direction. “The wind didn’t help at all, soccer is terrible in the conditions thatwe had. ECU was very smart in how they played also as they won the toss and chose to play with the wind first,” O’Connor said. “We just had to sit back at the start and couldn’t come out that far. Even in warmups we noticed the girls could only hit the ball about ten yards during a drill so we went in and told them to get numbers behind the ball, try and find the wingers as quickly as possible, and then find the balls in behind. They did a great job adjusting.”
Sophomore goalkeeper, Morgan Basileo, continued her fantastic season as well. She made six saves which lead to her fourth shutout in her six games started. After not beginning the season as the starter, the team has been on a role ever since she became the starter, only giving up two goals since her first start August 31 vs. Rider. “Regardless of what is in net we’re really positive with whoever it’ll be,” Falcone said. “Morgan has been doing great and she’s been very consistent so that’s who we’re sticking with right now.”
O’Connor noted, “The conference is full of good teams from top to bottom. All our conference games are going to be tight.”
Sunday the Owls will look to upset the Cincinnati Bearcats (8-1-2) at Temple Sports Complex starting at 1 P.M.